A lively exploration of contemporary Buddhism from one of its most admired teachers
Do you feel at home right now? Or do you sense a hovering anxiety or uncertainty, an underlying unease that makes you feel just a bit uncomfortable, a bit distracted and disconnected from those around you?
In The Road Home, Ethan Nichtern, a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, investigates the journey each of us takes to find where we belong. Drawing from contemporary research on meditation and mindfulness and his experience as a Buddhist teacher and practitioner, Nichtern describes in fresh and deeply resonant terms the basic existential experience that gives rise to spiritual seeking—and also to its potentially dangerous counterpart, spiritual materialism. He reveals how our individual quests for self-awareness ripple forward into relationships, communities, and society at large. And he explains exactly how, by turning our awareness to what's happening around us and inside us, we become able to enhance our sense of connection with others and, at the same time, change for the better our individual and collective patterns of greed, apathy, and inattention.
In this wise and witty invitation to Buddhist meditation, Nichtern shows how, in order to create a truly compassionate and enlightened society, we must start with ourselves. And this means beginning by working with our own minds—in whatever state we find them in.
Nichtern (One City) points out that the contemporary search for a place to call "home" never comes to fruition, because the search has been misguided. He turns readers inward to discover that home is, in fact, within themselves all along. He prescribes a path of connecting with one's "heartmind" through the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana schools of Buddhist tradition. One begins working on the self, examining the ways in which meditation, karma, ethics, and self-transformation are intricately connected. Next, one infuses that understanding with awareness of emptiness and compassion to more genuinely connect with other people. This view is then expanded so that the everyday world becomes suffused with the sacred, where anything is a possibility for learning and for furthering practice. Finally, because this work reveals the fundamental interdependence of humanity, Nichtern offers discussions on integrating these personal discoveries on a communal and societal level. Grounded in compassion, Nichtern's teaching offers a profound, lucid, and complex education in self-awareness, interdependence, and enlightenment.